Sometimes, you just need someone to step up and give your team a spark.
Sophomore catcher Caroline Kirkland was that player for the Richmond Senior softball team Wednesday night, as she broke a 4-all tie with a sixth-inning two-run single to help the Lady Raiders rally to defeat Union Pines, 7-4 in a nonconference contest.
With the win, the Lady Raiders evened their 2011 season record at 5-5. Richmond opens Southeastern Conference play Friday night on the road at Lumberton.
The Lady Raiders found themselves in a 2-0 hole early in this one, as Union Pines struck for a pair of runs in the top of the first, taking advantage of a Richmond error.
Richmond got two runners on in the home half of the first with one out after Summer Jacobs walked and Ashton Davenport singled. Bailey Coulthard sacrificed the runners to second and third, but a lineout to first and a flyout to right ended the Lady Raider threat.
The Lady Raiders were able tro break onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the second. Casey Snead led off with a single, and Alex Gardner drew a walk. Taylor Satterfield hit into a fielder’s choice, leaving runners at first and third with one out. Elizabeth Pittman plated Snead with a groundout to bring Richmond to within one at 2-1.
Richmond followed that inning with a three-run outburst in the bottom of the third. Davenport led off the frame with a single, but was forced at second on a Coulthard fielder’s choice. With two outs, Kirkland singled, putting runners at first and second. Snead plated both runs with a double, and moved to third on the throw to put Richmond up, 3-2. Gardner hit a fly ball that was dropped by the Union Pines right fielder, allowing Snead to score and expand the Richmond lead to 4-2.
Alas, the lead did not last very long. In the top of the fifth inning, Union Pines’ Onika Williams reached on a one-out bunt single, and with two outs, came home on Tyler Ross’s two-run homer to straightaway center.
The score remained knotted at 4 until the bottom of the sixth, when Elizabeth Pittman started the uprising with an infield single. Jacobs sacrificed her to second, and Davenport was hit by a pitch. Coulthard drew a clutch walk to load the bases, and then with two outs, Kirkland stroked her big single to provide what proved to be the winning margin for her team.
Casey Snead hit a drive to right that was mishandled for an error, allowing the final Richmond run to cross the plate.
Snead earned the victory, hurling three innings of shutout softball in relief of starter Jacobs. Snead struck out three - including the side in the top of the sixth.
Richmond coach Wendy Wallace followed through on a promise to tinker somewhat with the lineup, and she said after the game that the changes would continue.
“We’re looking for a lineup that will produce on a consistent basis,” Wallace said. “We hit the ball better tonight, but we’ve still got a ways to go.”
Richmond collected eight hits on the night. Davenport was 2-for-3; Kirkland was 2-for-4 with the two clutch RBIs and a run scored; Snead was 2-for-4 with two runs scored; and Elizabeth Pittman was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
First pitch Friday night at Lumberton is scheduled for 7 p.m.
n Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext. 14 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.